You are currently viewing Episode 369: What’s Your Policy On Secrets?

Episode 369: What’s Your Policy On Secrets?

Happy New Year listeners! In this episode we are talking about sexual secrets: when to share with your partner and when to withhold. A sexual secret might look like a hot fantasy, a memorable sexual encounter with a past lover or a desire to explore sexually. Laurie and George guide listeners in their conversation on the healthy drive behind the secret and pros and cons of sharing or withholding. Our hosts put an emphasis on timing, good judgement and the risks and benefits associated. The erotic mind is always at work and this helps increase vitality and creativity. We still need to protect our relationship and consider, will sharing this secret draw my partner closer or push them away? Disclaimer: this episode is not about affair relationships!

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Show Notes

The Policy on Secrets

– Speaker emphasizes the timing of discussing secrets and advises against being impulsive about it

– Suggests consulting with a therapist before sharing a secret to ensure clarity and find ways to present it

– Discusses the potential benefits of sharing secrets in increasing engagement and getting to know your partner better

– Emphasizes the importance of being open and welcoming to feedback when hearing a secret

– Explores the impact of withholding information and the potential consequences for the relationship

 Balancing Secrets in a Relationship

– Speaker encourages listeners to think intentionally about their approach to secrets in their relationship

– Discusses the multitude of triggers and fantasies in our lives that we may not have enough time to share

– Questions whether withholding information creates distance or is a means of protection

– Explores the concept of the service of secrets and whether sharing them leads to success or harm in the relationship

– Weighs the importance of sharing attractions or fantasies with a partner and the potential impact on the relationship

Finding the Right Balance

– Speaker emphasizes that every couple needs to find their own balance regarding sharing information

– Discusses the benefits of not sharing certain things, such as previous relationship histories that may be uncomfortable for a partner to hear about

– Highlights the importance of finding a balance between sharing important parts of oneself while also protecting and respecting one’s partner

– Discusses the importance of sharing in relationships and how it can lead to opportunities for growth and intimacy

Risks and Benefits of Sharing Secrets

– Speaker acknowledges the potential risks of sharing secrets, such as hurting one’s partner or experiencing judgment and awkwardness

– Discusses the potential benefits of sharing, including increased intimacy and the opportunity for growth in couples therapy

– Explores the dilemma of sharing difficult secrets, such as affairs, and the potential outcomes for the relationship

– Examines the pros and cons of sharing secrets and highlights the importance of considering the risks and benefits

 The Impact of Secrets on Sexual Intimacy

– Speaker discusses the impact of secrets on sexual energy and intimacy in a relationship

– Emphasizes the importance of creating a safe environment for discussing sexual secrets or affairs

– Advises seeking the help of a therapist when sharing big sexual secrets that could potentially damage the relationship

– Discusses the importance of tact and discretion when sharing sexual thoughts or triggers with a partner

 Timing and Protecting Your Partner

– Speaker emphasizes the importance of timing and protecting their partner in sharing secrets

– Acknowledges the risks associated with both withholding information and sharing it, such as judgment, insecurity, or distance

– Discusses the ability to repair after sharing or when things don’t work out, which can bring people closer

– Explores the benefits of both sharing and not sharing in a relationship, depending on the circumstances


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Laurie Watson [00:00:32]:

I got a secret OOH I got a sex secret OOH I know tell, tell all yeah. So let’s talk about sexual secrets.

George Faller [00:00:43]:

Sexual secrets. Bam.

Laurie Watson [00:00:48]:

Welcome to foreplay sex therapy. I’m Dr. Lori Watson, your sex therapist.

George Faller [00:00:53]:

And I’m George Faller, your couple’s therapist.

Laurie Watson [00:00:55]:

We are here to talk about sex.

George Faller [00:00:57]:

Our mission is to help couples talk about sex in ways that incorporate their body, their mind, and their hearts.

Laurie Watson [00:01:05]:

And we have a little bit of fun doing it.

George Faller [00:01:07]:

Right, g. Listen and let’s change some relationships.

Laurie Watson [00:01:11]:

Hey, don’t forget to check out with the coupon Foreplay. It really helps us to support the podcast and keep delivering free content. Thanks so much. Sex secrets. What are sex secrets? George?

George Faller [00:01:24]:

Please tell.

Laurie Watson [00:01:25]:

We all have this erotic brain inside, and many of us think up all kinds of crazy stuff that is fun, and we fantasize. We think about everything from A to Z, and many times we keep that inside. We don’t share it for many reasons. We don’t want to hurt our partner. Maybe we think our partner would think we’re a freak, or we think it’s the most exciting thing in the world to share a sex secret. And we’re dying for our partner to share their sex secrets. And we can’t get them to, or we can get them to. And sex secrets might be things that we’ve dreamed about, and maybe they’re impossible to do together, or maybe they’re something that we want to do together, but there’s anxiety about it. And I think that sometimes just having sexy little thoughts is a way to fuel your drive, the way that you hold it. And what do you think? There’s all kinds of issues that we want to talk about with sex secrets.

George Faller [00:02:25]:

It’s not only fantasies. I mean, sometimes we have actions, right? We’ve had an affair. We’ve acted out, we’ve done things. So a secret is just holding something back. So what I would hope is to just do a thorough, open up a space for our listeners to think about what is the risks of withholding secrets? There’s a cost when we withhold. What are the risks when we share and it doesn’t work so well. What are the benefits of when we withhold and don’t share? And what are the benefits when we actually do share? I mean, I think there’s just so much to this conversation that, again, couples just don’t talk about or don’t think about so again. Let’s start with the risks of withholding. Right. And I think this is what you were starting with. There’s so much vitality and energy up there and creativity and fun with a lot of these fantasies. And when we withhold them because we don’t want to be rejected or we don’t want to hurt our partner’s feelings or bring up jealousy, whatever it is, we start to lose parts of our sexual energy that we can connect with. It’s like parts of us are just not able to be brought into the relationship.

Laurie Watson [00:03:40]:

Yes. So you’re saying if we’re holding back, then maybe walling this piece off from the partnership, we can lose vitality.

George Faller [00:03:52]:

Yeah. If I think about a fantasy where something excites me, but sharing it might freak my wife out and I have to then turn that off or keep it to myself or a lot of people go to fantasies during the act of love. It actually causes disengagement. I’m not present with my partner because I’m somewhere else. I think this is some of the risks of withholding secrets.

Laurie Watson [00:04:20]:

Okay, so that’s a complicated example, George, and it’s good because it’s complicated. So on the one hand, you’re saying if you’re thinking about something that could freak out your wife, but it comes to you in the moment of making love, and you hold that in because you’re afraid of hurting your partner or freaking out the moment. It could down regulate your own experience? Is that what you’re saying? Like you might not feel as excited in that moment?

George Faller [00:04:48]:

Well, if you have to push it aside, you might lose excitement. Or if you want to chase that excitement, you’re going to disengage from your partner in the present moment. So the holding of a secret can create distance.

Laurie Watson [00:05:04]:

Okay. So if you’re holding it and feeling excited by it, you’re not really necessarily present with what is happening right now. So you’re losing intimacy in the moment. And what was the other option? Telling?

George Faller [00:05:19]:

The other option is to just try to block it out, to just kind of stop it, which then you lose some of that vitality that it was giving you. Your body was going to it for a reason. So the loss of intimacy is, I think, one of the big things that could happen in holding a secret. But there’s also a risk to sharing. And sometimes when we do share, we can hurt our partner, we can get judged. It can lead to awkwardness. Right. So if my fantasy is I want to be tied up and I kind of share that kind of secret of myself, or maybe I shared experience with a past lover where I kind of got turned on by that. And actually sharing that causes my partner to start getting jealous or start getting insecure or threatened by the information. It’s going to lead to lower levels of engagement. You’re sharing the secret because you want higher levels of engagement and what you get is actually the opposite. You get more distance.

Laurie Watson [00:06:22]:

Okay, so let’s go back to your example because I think this is good. Let’s say one of those thoughts comes to you while you are making love and it’s exciting and your choice is to follow it, which is to you’re kind of sure that right now is not the time to share it. So that’s not a good time. But if you follow the fantasy, if you’re thinking about some past experience, you’re not really with your partner. Or if you go, okay, I don’t want to follow that, but I got to actively push it away, then my energy is blocked. Wow, that is a dilemma. No, good move there. But I would definitely say the sharing of something that is dicey with your partner when they are naked and aroused, please use really good judgment here because if you’re going to share something that is going to there’s a good risk of hurting your partner or threatening them when they’re naked. Like talk about naked and afraid. Right. That’s just not smart. So, yeah, you may have to sacrifice some of your own vitality a little bit for the moment and choosing a more opportune moment to share it.

George Faller [00:07:37]:

Timing is everything and trying to protect our partner. Right. Holding that balance, we can see the cost, the possible risks of both withholding it and losing intimacy or sharing and it leading to judgment or more insecurity or more distance. Right. That’s why this is so difficult for a lot of couples. They’re afraid at some level they know there’s a risk and it could make things worse. So again, we want to start off by just acknowledging that and we’re less scared. As therapists, we head into these places. We see when people can share their risks or when things don’t work. It’s actually the ability to repair that makes both people feel closer afterwards. So I guess I would want to shift into what are the benefits of sharing and what are the benefits of not sharing? Because that also can be true. I think if we talk about the benefits of not sharing, I think this is what you’re talking about. Sometimes the timing isn’t right and it might hurt our partner and it makes sense to not share. If I have a thought about a past lover, that’s really not that big of a deal, but it’s just something that my brain gets kind of turned on. It thinks about something, do I need to share that with my partner and bring something new in that might worry them when I really don’t need to? It’s not like a driving thing, it’s this little thing. We all have these secrets that we choose not to. You walk down the street, you look at your neighbor like, oh, that’d be interesting. Do you need to share that with me? And I think so many people over disclose, they just want to be an open book. Where that’s going in the other extreme. What do you think, Laurie?

Laurie Watson [00:09:25]:

The most important thing here is increasing your own sexual relationship. The positive feelings, the intimate feelings, the safety and the excitement. And this is the part of the brain that is kind of getting a dopamine hit on a fantasy or a sexual thought or a sexual trigger that goes, that’s a big dopamine hit for me. Would it be helpful to share that with my partner? And this is discretion. I have a friend who is male who says he can look at the waitress’s ass and he can tell his wife about it. It’s like, wow, that woman’s hot. And she likes it. She laughs, she thinks it’s funny. She also knows he’s not going for the waitress, but she’s okay with that. She basically gets the vibe of the sexual energy that he’s sharing with her. And it’s not a threat. It’s funny to her and she appreciates his sexual energy. So that’s cool. But I mean, I think if you don’t have that kind of safety and you see the neighbor and you go, you know, mrs. Adams was looking really hot in that bikini and your partner doesn’t think that’s funny, or maybe your partner is a sexual withdrawal and is anxious, are you going for you know? Or that would just be hurtful. So what do you do with the sexual secret then? It does turn you on to see Mrs. Adams in a bikini. Where do you put that in a way that helps you?

George Faller [00:10:53]:

Let’s pick this up and try to figure out that balance.

Laurie Watson [00:11:00]:

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George Faller [00:12:37]:

Yes. Dr. Rebecca Jorgensen, who’s an EFT trainer and Dr. Debbie Gilmore, an EFT supervisor. Both really creative, brilliant minds that have a passion for helping couples have these conversations in their own home and have fun while they’re doing it. The Mad thing is a great idea, really.

Laurie Watson [00:12:54]:

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George Faller [00:13:27]:

A cool little pre marital program. Always nice to start new couple off with that secure foundation. Check it out.

Laurie Watson [00:13:38]:

Okay, so hot. Mrs. Adams, what are we going to do with that sexual secret?

George Faller [00:13:43]:

I think it’s important to just name that. We all withhold secrets.

Laurie Watson [00:13:52]:


George Faller [00:13:53]:

We have way too many kind of triggers and kind of fantasies and things that happen in our life that there’s not enough time in a day to share them all. So are you withholding in a way that is going to create distance or is you’re withholding trying to protect? I guess that’s what I’m always thinking about. What’s the service of the secrets? Right. You know, if you’re going to share, if you’re sharing leads to success, it’s great. But if your sharing leads to hurting, is it so helpful? Do I want to hear from my partner that she’s attracted to the neighbor? What would that do to me? I mean, if it’s something serious, I probably am going to want to know that, right? It might lead to an affair. Yeah, I’m going to want to know that. If it’s like this little passing kind of fantasy, I don’t really need to hear that. And again, every couple is trying to find their balance around I just want to get that across that sometimes there is a benefit to not sharing, to kind of not having a conversation that could hurt people’s feelings for something that’s not so important. If it is important, you’re going to need to have this conversation. But if it’s something like with history, some people have this rich history with other lovers that the other partner does not want to hear. Some partners do really want to hear. So again, if you have a partner who doesn’t want to hear is protecting them by not sharing a really loving thing to do? Right. The balance becomes when. What if it’s a part of you that is important to share? Then your need to withhold or protect them causes you to lose part of you.

Laurie Watson [00:15:38]:

Okay, that’s complicated. Can you give them an example of that? The first part I get, if the secret or the memory or the fantasy or the observation or the trigger is going to hurt our partner. We don’t want to share that. If it’s unimportant and we don’t want to irritate our partner, we don’t want to threaten our partner. That is not smart. And you are saying, though, if it’s important, which is different than exciting to me, if it’s important. I’m thinking about the neighbor. I’m thinking about the neighbor a lot. Me and the neighbor are now having coffee together. Now me and the neighbor are having dinner together while you’re out of town. Just by the way, all of those things. Eventually I need to share my fantasy and what that means to us. I’m missing something between us or whatever.

George Faller [00:16:30]:

You’re highlighting the benefits of sharing and I think this is the crux of helping people see the opportunity in sharing when the sharing actually works. Okay, so if my past lover, the oral sex, was great, and my partner now doesn’t like oral sex, and I can’t talk about that because I don’t want to hurt my partner, then I lose access to a big part of me, of what turns me on, of what my body has liked. Being able to share that secret that no, I actually really do like oral. And we need to have a tough conversation around it. Why, you don’t like it? Am I trying to protect you? Causes me to lose me. Then it becomes very counterproductive. Right? That’s where the cost of not sharing start to we don’t then get the opportunity of sharing. What if in the sharing my partner could explain what’s stopping the oral sex? So actually we can make progress on that. I mean, we have so much success as couples therapists with people sharing secrets and getting closer through the sharing of secrets. Right? So again, that’s a big part of our own bias. It’s like when we talk about affairs. I don’t have a lot of success with couples who hide the affairs. I have a lot of success with people who learn something about themselves in the affair. Their partner learns something about them. They create a different relationship in the working through the affair. So that’s a secret. That’s like one of the ultimate secrets. And we have so much success in couples being able to share that. So I guess that’s the bias that I usually lean towards withholding secrets is like a ticking time bomb in your basement that could go off when you share secrets. We have a lot of confidences of working it through, but I just am inviting all our listeners to think about the pros and cons. Sometimes maybe hiding a secret is in the best interest of everybody and other times the sharing is actually what’s going to lead you to feel the levels of intimacy are going to go up.

Laurie Watson [00:18:43]:

Yeah, the way you said that, though, I want to put some other comments about that. We’re very careful sexual coaches. As therapists, our goal is to create a whole bunch of safety, especially around sharing of an affair that hasn’t been shared. We want to set people up well for that. That’s usually always pretty darn painful. Always. So we put a lot of careful, sort of timed safety around that conversation and we help process the reaction and all of that so that both people can talk about it versus sharing on their own and it could shut them down, I think. One thing I would say about sharing big sexual secrets that have the potential for damage, you might want to go to a therapist for that. And I agree that affairs need to be explored. They need to be explored in terms of what it means emotionally in the partnership and sexually. And they have to be thoroughly discussed so that you do get back whatever that purpose for the affair was, it can be taken captive back into the relationship. So yeah, I was listening to you talk about the secret of maybe a past lover who was easy about oral sex and a partner. Now isn’t how might we share that with a great deal of tact? Would be my first bit of advice if your partner knew about Jane from well, you know, Jane was great at giving me head. It was messy. It was know. I love that. My body loves that. It’s like, woof. Now I hate know. And that’s not your point. Your point is really to induce me into a safer, more erotic experience. Maybe we don’t name the name. So it’s like in the past, the lovers I was with loved giving oral sex and they couldn’t wait. They loved the way I smelled, the way I tasted. And that was such a turn on for me. It gave me so much confidence about who I was, my body, my genitals. And it made me feel so desired and wanted. I know you’re not that verbal to me. That’s the sexual secret being shared in a kind of timing way.

George Faller [00:21:16]:

The timing is everything. And I appreciate you’re trying to highlight the importance of not being impulsive and just throwing these conversations out. Right. To be able to think maybe you need to run it by an individual therapist to just kind of get clear on what’s happening and figure out ways of presenting it. You want to protect your partner so your partner could hear this secret because there’s a healthy drive behind it, which is wanting more engagement. Right. The flip side, if we’re the person hearing a secret, we want to train ourselves to be more welcoming of feedback because there’s good vitality in this stuff. You’re getting to know more of your partner. If you want to protect yourself from information because you don’t want to feel insecure, the cost of that protection is you’re going to have less of your partner. So how do we kind of see both sides? See the value in being able to talk about some of these things. When I have couples that can talk about their sexual history and they both feel like they learn more about themselves and each other, they come out of that enriched. Right. But other couples don’t want to have it, which is totally fine, too. We’re just giving you the space to think about it more intentionally. What are you two doing with secrets?

Laurie Watson [00:22:33]:

Right? And I would say as a sexual pursuer, I actually want to know all the secrets. It’s like, I want to know what my partner did with other partners. I want to know what he fantasizes about. I want to know what he wishes for. It’s like in an exciting way. It would be hard for me to know those things in a comparative way.

George Faller [00:22:58]:


Laurie Watson [00:22:59]:

Like, I’m fantasizing about my 20 year old girlfriend. There are ways that I think I can imagine the conversation coming out that would excite me, that would turn me on, that it would be like a gift. I’m knowing something about his inner erotic life and world that I’m dying to know about those things. I think for most sexual well, I don’t know about most sexual.

George Faller [00:23:28]:

If you’re a pursuer, you’re going to probably tend to want to push for more of these conversations both you sharing and you’re wanting your partner to share. And if you’re a maturer, there’s going to be more hesitancy because there’s safety in not sharing and there’s value in both of these positions.

Laurie Watson [00:23:46]:

Yeah. I can see even as a sexual pursuer, ways I could get triggered negatively, but I’m talking about the positive benefit, the dopamine hit that comes from my partner getting naked mentally about his sexual fantasies and ideas and triggers and all of that. Think about maybe you walk in and your partner is watching porn and it’s like, oh, man, why are you doing that when we could be having sex? But if your partner said, this is why I had this sexual fantasy and you weren’t home yet, and so I was just doing this, I was thinking of acting it out, and it’s like, okay, well, tell me about the sexual fantasy, please. You want to know those things? But it could go sideways. We know that. I guess I’m also emphasizing that it could bring excitement.

George Faller [00:24:43]:


Laurie Watson [00:24:43]:

And for some of us, knowing a fantasy or something, I think knowing their past big turn on. Big turn on. Like, what was your high? What was your worst experience, even? That’s fun. Anything that tells me about their sexual mind is exciting.

George Faller [00:25:03]:

Exactly. And that’s a message for a lot of these sexual withdrawers, is that a lot of times they don’t even consider the opportunity because they don’t want to rock the boat. Right. But the opportunity in sharing secrets and the research is really clear on this, that if it’s done tactfully and the timing is right, it is going to increase levels of intimacy. There’s more of each of you to connect with, which is a beautiful thing. So everyone’s got to find their balance on what they’re comfortable with. Well, we hope some of you listeners are going to say, what’s our policy around secrets? How do we do this as a couple? One shares more, one doesn’t share so much. Are we comfortable with the balance that we’ve created? Because most people just never talk about they have a system in place, but they never actually evaluate that system.

Laurie Watson [00:25:49]:

Yes, it’s an unconscious system in place. And since it’s the new year, we want you to think about making things more intentional, more conscious between the two of you. Yeah. What’s your policy about secrets?

George Faller [00:26:03]:

What do you policy about secrets?

Laurie Watson [00:26:05]:

Okay. Thanks for listening.

George Faller [00:26:07]:

Keep it hot, y’all.

Laurie Watson [00:26:09]:

Okay, so tell us about your cutting edge training that you’re doing on success and vulnerability.

George Faller [00:26:15]:

Laurie we just keep pushing it. Coming up with a new module on the playbook of a pursuer playbook of a witcher. Really practical, moment by moment moves of what a therapist can use. We’re so focused on what’s happening in session enough, there’s talk about theories and these global things. I think most therapists are looking for, what do I do in this moment? Give me a tool, George. So that’s what we’re trying to do.

Laurie Watson [00:26:41]:

That’s awesome. I am so glad you guys are doing this work. I think it helps us be organized to see you do it. You do demos, you do explanations. Teaching. It really is interactive, and I think that so many trainings that we sit through don’t give us an opportunity for that. So what you’re doing is really important.

George Faller [00:27:00]:

No, we try to emphasize, to teach it, show it, do it model of learning. You need to have some ideas. So we try to teach those, and then we try to show what it looks like implementing those ideas. But most importantly, you now got to practice it. That’s how they become yours. And that’s what we want our listeners and watchers to do, is become their own moves.

Laurie Watson [00:27:19]:

Find George and his

Speaker Ads [00:27:24]:

Call in your questions to the Foreplay question voicemail dial eight three three my. Foreplay. That’s eight three three my. The number four play. And we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes. All content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed clinician or as medical advice from a doctor. This podcast is copyrighted by Foreplay Media.

Speaker Ads [00:27:48]:

Hey, guys. I’m Natalie Pouche, and I’m the host of your new favorite podcast, humble and Hungry. It’s time to grab your cheese and your favorite bottle of wine because we’re having a girls night, and we’re about to embark on a whole new journey as we juggle motherhood and blindly navigating through our 30s. We’re talking life, drama, dating, and everything in between. I recommend listening to Humble and Hungry on the Iheart app on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your Podcasts.